Tuesday, November 30, 2010

don't call me shirley

the death of actor leslie nielsen yesterday came as a surprise but not a shock. the man was 84 years old. however, his death leaves this world a bit emptier for him not being in it. the obits and appreciations i've read all pretty well concentrate on his comedy. for that, nielsen was a master ham. by playing it straight, along with his leading man looks, his silvery mane, and his resonant voice he was the antithesis of the clown. by playing his scenes straight in very goofball movies the comedy was amped to the first intensity. but nielsen was also a gifted actor and for me one of his best roles was in the stephen king/george a romero's paean to e.c. comics creepshow [1982]. in the segment 'something to tide you over' nielsen portrayed a really evil, really sinister dude. gone was the comedy and in its place was pure creepiness. it is a masterful role and a proof that nielsen had a lot of range. then again, i've long claimed that comedy and horror come from similar places and plays upon emotions that are mirror images of each other. pleasure and pain. fear and joy. we can't have one without the other. i'll remember that next time when someone says, 'rich -- surely you don't mean. . .' and i'll say, 'don't call me shirley.'


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